tv CBS Evening News With Katie Couric CBS August 10, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm PST
part of a reality tv show. in bs evening news wit couric is next. r >> couric: tonight, once one of the most powerful figures in washington, former senator ted stevens dies in a plane crash in alaska, former nasa chiefs sean o'keefe survives. i'm katie couric. also tonight, air rage--the story behind a flight attendant's dramatic departure from a jetblue plane. beneath the bright lights, the dark underworld that's home to las vegas' booming homeless population. and they're not in battle creek anymore. pop-tarts pop up in times square. captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news world headquarters in new york, this is the "cbs evening news" with katie couric. >> couric: good evening, everyone. we're beginning tonight with the death of a man who was a fixture
in congress for four decades. republican ted stevens, former senator from alaska, died there in a plane crash that also killed four others. former nasa chief sean o'keefe is among four survivors. stevens was once one of the most powerful men on capitol hill and as president pro team of the senate, third in the line of succession the presidency. but he left the senate early last year under a cloud of scandal. the plane carrying stevens and the others went down last night in a remote area 325 miles southwest of anchorage. priya david clemens tells us rescue teams couldn't reach the site until this morning. >> reporter: ambulances stood waiting at the dillingham airport ready to care for survivors brought in this c-130 rescue plane from the flight that crashed with former alaska senator ted stevens and eight others on board. it took rescuers 12 hours to reach the victims at the crash site because of heavy fog and wind. >> the weather has now settled on to the crash site and has prohibited any rescue effort.
>> reporter: this is video of the plane in a previous flight which carried the nine passengers. a single engine de havilland dhc-3t designed to land on water. at about 2:00 p.m. monday afternoon local time, the flight took off from lake nerka and was heading 38 miles away but crashed into a mountainside 30 miles short of its destination. among the four survivors, stevens' friend sean o'keefe, a former nasa administrator known for his leadership during the space shuttle "columbia" explosion in 2003. o'keefe's teenage son also survived. the group was on its way to a lodge where stevens often spent summers fishing. >> he built alaska and he stood for alaska and he fought for alaska. >> reporter: stevens served in the u.s. senate for 40 years, longer than any other republican... >> i will never stop fighting for the people of alaska. >> reporter: ...over those four decades, he was extremely popular with his constituents, directing billions of dollars in alaska, including the infamous
bridge to nowhere which became a symbol of pork barrel spending. in 2008, stevens was convicted on seven counts of corruption and then narrowly lost a battle for reelection the following week. the charges were later dropped because prosecutors were held evidence from the defense. >> home is where the heart is, mr. president. if that is so, i have two homes- - one is right here in this chamber and the other is my beloved state of alaska. i must leave one to return to the other. >> well, ted stevens was an indispensable senator to his state. it's hard to imagine alaska without ted stevens. >> reporter: with its rugged terrain and foggy weather, alaska accounts for more than one in five of all small plane crashes nationwide. in 1978, stevens survived a plane crash that killed seven people on board, including his wife when their lear jet crash landed at anchorage international airport. this afternoon, president obama praised stevens for devoting his
career to the people of alaska. we're also learning more about the others on this that plane. the two others who survived were a teenaged boy and a lobbyist from virginia. the four others who died include the pilot and friend of stevens from alaska. priya david clemens, cbs news, los angeles. >> couric: and, priya, a lot of attention has been focused today on senator stevens and sean of the ways and means committee and now facing a house ethics trial and possible expulsion. wyatt andrews tells us rangel took to the floor of the house today to defend himself. >> are you going to expel me from this party? >> reporter: in an emotional and raw defense against 13 ethics charges, charles rangel mixed small doses of contrition... >> i apologize for any embarrassment that i've caused. >> reporter: ...into a speech of political defiance... >> fire your best shot in getting rid of me. >> reporter: ...and to any democrat, starting with the president, who hoped rangel would resign to avoid any
embarrassing ethic trial just before the election. >> don't leave me swinging in the wind until november. i deserve and demand the right to be heard. >> reporter: rangel said he wants a trial and isn't going anywhere. >> hey, if i was you, i may want know go away, too. i am not going away! i am here! >> reporter: but he is also in serious trouble. rangel is charged with not reporting his income on a beach villa in the dominican republic. his taxable gains on a condo in florida. not reporting several large investment accounts and with raising money for his rangel center at the city college in new york from dozens of companies needing favors from his committee. >> i apologize. >> reporter: despite his apology for breaking house rules, he minimized most of the charges as technical. >> there has to be a penalty for grabbing the wrong stationery. >> reporter: but not criminal. >> it may be stupid, it may be negligent, but it's not corrupt.
>> reporter: on the house floor itself, this was real-world drama. a man who had clawed his way to the peak of political power now shocked to find himself deserted by so many friends. >> but for god's sake, just don't believe that i don't have feelings, that i don't have pride. >> reporter: many democrats who are facing tough reelection campaigned thought that... hoped that rangel would actually take one for the team and quit before his ethics problem became their election issue. but rangel called that kind of thinking unfair to him and even asked at one point in his speech "what about me?" katie? >> couric: wyatt andrews on capitol hill. wyatt, thank you. now, the reason the house was in session today is that speaker pelosi called members back from summer break to pass a $26 billion jobs bill. democrats say it will save or create 160,000 education jobs and 160,000 other jobs including police and firefighters. chip reid is at the white house tonight and, chip, not everyone on capitol hill is applauding this measure tonight.
>> reporter: well, katie, with election day less than three months away, just about everything that happens in this town becomes mired in nasty partisan politics, and this jobs bill is no exception. in a blistering hot rose garden today, the president turned up the heat on congress to pass his latest jobs bill. >> we can't stand by and do nothing while pink slips are given to the men and women who educate our children or keep our communities safe. >> reporter: with control of the house threatened in the november elections, beleaguered democrats are so desperate for accomplishments on jobs, they interrupted their treasured august recess to return to washington. and in a vote almost entirely along party lines passed the bill 247 to 161. that's good news for teachers like beth kruppa who taught art in this school in yonkers new york. she was laid off last month and now hopes to get her job back. >> children are the future, this is not the place to tighten the belt.
>> reporter: celebrating with students and teachers, speaker nancy pelosi said the $26 billion bill is more than paid for with $17.7 billion in spending cuts, including about $12 billion from food stamps and another $10 billion from closing corporate tax loopholes. but republicans-- all but two of whom voted against the bill-- say that is nonsense. >> it's nothing more than smoke and mirrors to claim that this is somehow paid for. >> reporter: democrats they know are already looking for ways to reverse the spending cuts, especially on food stamps. >> the american people are asking what part of "broke" doesn't this congress understand? >> reporter: republicans say voters will see this bill as yet another federal bailout, this time for the states and the teachers' unions. >> the american people are screaming at the top of their lungs "stop!" and washington continues to spend, spend, spend. >> reporter: the president signed the bill late today and both parties went home happy. democrats because it gives them something to brag about out on
the campaign trail and republicans because it helps them argue that democrats are leading the nation to financial ruin. katie? >> couric: chip reid at the white house tonight. for those fortunate enough to have a job in this tough economy, there's a growing gap in salary between government employees and those who work in the private sector. more on that now from sharyl attkisson. >> reporter: while many americans have suffered pay cuts or job losses, one group is bucking the trend-- federal workers. a "u.s.a. today" analysis finds that federal employees have gotten bigger pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years straight. >> it made me think, man, i should be a federal employee. >> reporter: federal salaries have grown 33% faster than inflation. their pay and benefits average $123,000, up 37% since 2000. private workers average $61,000, up just 8.8% over the same time. >> so you have wall-street, you
have big oil, and now you have federal civilians. >> reporter: and the bonuses are flowing. cbs news has learned your tax dollars funded $95.8 million in airport security, t.s.a. bonuses last year. a $35,000 bonus to the head of the agency. >> they're really overpaid. >> right now everything should be a freeze across the board until we really get the economy back up and running. >> reporter: federal employees see things differently. >> i definitely don't think i'm being paid too much. >> i think i'm paid a fair wage, definitely. >> reporter: defenders of federal salaries say they reflect the higher skills and education often required for their jobs and many are paid more because they've stuck with their jobs so long. >> i've been working for the government 21 years. >> reporter: president obama has ordered a freeze on bonuses for 3,000 political appointees and is asking for the smallest pay hike in more than a decade for two million other federal workers, 1.4%. katie? >> couric: sharyl attkisson. sharyl, thank you very much. meanwhile, here in new york
city, the strange saga of that jetblue flight attendant continues. he was officially suspended from his job today, though it appeared he gave the job up yesterday in a very dramatic way after a heated argument with a passenger. michelle miller has the story. >> reporter: in police custody, steven slater has worn a slight grin. he was arraigned today in criminal court to face charges of reckless endangerment. >> he swore at a passenger and we... the few of us that were still waiting to get off thought that's weird, nobody ever swears on the intercom, somebody's going to be in trouble. >> reporter: prosecutors say slater used the plane's p.a. system to curse a woman he exchanged words with saying: "to the passenger who called me an expletive, blank you, adding to the rest on board, thanks for a great ride." the 38-year-old then reportedly grabbed two beers and prosecutors say he deployed and slid down the emergency chute, endangering workers on the tarmac below. slater did not speak in court
but his attorney argued that two passengers were at fault. >> they were shoving the luggage around, he came over to assist, she started cursing. >> reporter: witnesses say one of the passengers inadvertently slammed the overhead door on his head leaving a bloody gash. his attorney says slater has been under stress, caring for his mother who is suffering from lung cancer. >> i can understand why he snapped and i would have snapped, too. >> reporter: travel experts say cabin pressure is building. passenger complaints have jumped nearly 90% in june over the same time last year. >> considering the fact that today every flight is full, planes are delayed, it's summer, temperature is hot, all bets could be off. >> reporter: that might explain why overnight slater has become an internet folk hero. his facebook account has 46,000 fans. online fans have left messages like "i raise a glass in your honor." "way to go." and, "you are my me hero."
if convicted, their new hero could face seven years in prison. michelle miller, cbs news, new york. >> couric: and in the gulf, so close yet so far. on day 113, drilling of a relief well was stopped just 30 feet from completion. a strong storm is headed toward the b.p. well site and could become a tropical depression, drilling could be delayed for three days. meanwhile, more federal waters were reopened to fishing today, more than 5,000 square miles along the florida panhandle. no oil has been spotted there since july 3. and coming up next here on the "cbs evening news," the las vegas most of us never see-- below the famous strip. and later, the new toast of times square is a pop-tart.
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but beneath these bright lights is a much darker world for those who've struck out. >> when we come down here a lot of times we don't know what to expect. >> reporter: tagging along on a homeless outreach mission. >> sometimes people don't know how to ask for help. >> reporter: we journey deep into a labyrinth of flood tunnels snaking for more than 200 miles, up to 20 feet below the ritzy casinos. here hundreds, maybe even a thousand homeless escape the desert heat and the pressures of the world above. mike, who's hooked on meth, says tunnel life was an adventure at first. now eight years later what are you thinking? >> i'm thinking what a big mistake i made. >> reporter: the walls serve as a roster of those who've made mistakes, like barry who spent 17 years in prison. >> i got my little library here- - it's not much. >> reporter: you call this your library? >> yeah, two books. >> reporter: amid the scraps and
misfortune, lives are pieced together. sally and her partner diego fled to these tunnels just six weeks ago. this is your i.d. from... sally shows me her casino i.d., all that's left from her 21 years as a cashier at the frontier hotel before it closed three years ago. >> i knew when they were looking around... >> reporter: you have tears. >> well i have lots of pain, you know? >> reporter: for a while, they laid tiles in homes until the construction boom went bust. the recession really hit you? >> yeah, hit me in my head so bad. >> reporter: now they've laid a line of moss to keep water off their bed. and diego catches the runoff for a shower. you came from cuba here in search of the american dream. this doesn't look like the american dream? >> millions of people lose american dreams already. it's not only me. >> some of them did make poor choices, but that doesn't mean you should give up on them.
>> reporter: journalist matt o'brien wrote a book about this elaborate subterranean world of beds with head boards, makeshift pantries, even art on the walls. but this is no place to live. >> down here you have some privacy, you know? you can kind of live on your own and, look, you have a ceiling, two walls and a floor. >> reporter: o'brien's interest has turned into advocacy. >> you mind if we come in and speak with you? >> reporter: and he's connected folks in the tunnels with a local nonprofit group called help of southern nevada. >> we could be that light at the could be that prayer that's answered. >> getting back to normality. >> reporter: it was for randy who now has an apartment thanks to help which has placed more than 70 people in ran the transitional housing.
giving hope to the hundreds still living if the shadows beneath the neon. seth doane, cbs news, las vegas. of a heart attack or stroke. i was going to tell you. if you have p.a.d., plavix can help protect you from a heart attack or stroke. plavix helps keep blood platelets from sticking together and forming clots, the cause of most heart attacks and strokes. call the doctor about plavix -- please? i will. [ male announcer ] certain genetic factors and some medicines such as prilosec reduce the effect of plavix leaving you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke. your doctor may use genetic tests to determine treatment. don't stop taking plavix without talking to your doctor as your risk of heart attack or stroke may increase. people with stomach ulcers or conditions that cause bleeding should not use plavix. taking plavix alone or with some other medicines including aspirin may increase bleeding risk, so tell your doctor when planning surgery. tell your doctor all medicines you take including aspirin especially if you've had a stroke.
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investigators also say there is no evidence yet that faulty electronics were to blame. tomorrow is the start of ramadan, the month of fasting and prayer for muslims. that presents a huge challenge for minnesota vikings safety hussein abdullah, a muslim who won't eat or drink anything during the day, even in the heat of training camp. the vikings are concerned. a team nutritionist has worked with him on ways to maintain his stamina. nine years ago, another viking player, korey stringer, died of heat stroke during training camp. 15 years after the u.s. and vietnam normalized relations, there's now a floating symbol of their growing bond. the u.s.s. "john mccain" arrived in da nang today for joint exercises with the vietnamese military. the destroyer is named after two admirals, the father and grandfather of arizona senator john mccain. that john mccain spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in vietnam but later championed renewed ties.
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>> couric: finally tonight, new york city is home to some of the finest restaurants in the world, serving virtually every kind of cuisine you could imagine-- and maybe some you couldn't. jim axelrod tells us the newest cafe to open here hopes it will soon become the toast of the town. >> kellogg's! the greatest name in cereal. >> reporter: for nearly half a century... >> i love pop-tarts. they're, like, the best things. >> reporter: ...pop-tarts have been the go-to breakfast treat for american kid. >> i would eat them almost, like, everyday. >> reporter: kellogg's felt it was time to freshen up the brand, which in this day and age means opening a flagship store in times square. more than 3,000 square feet of pop-tart paraphernalia, pop-tart sushi, anyone? >> times square is an iconic location. it's the cross roads of the world. >> reporter: the grand opening of the pop start store points up at least one old school rule of retail, still holding its own in the internet age.
the true mark of retail status is still physical space in a prestigious place. is it effective? >> i think it's very effective. because how are you going to get excited about pop-tarts? how are you going to get excited about a new flavor of pop-tarts when you think about the 30- year-old ones that are really hard and in your cupboard? >> reporter: marketing expert barbara lippert notes 26 million people visit times square each year. so whatever in the world you're selling-- toys, electronics, cameras, coke, candy-- this is the place you want to be and not the place it used to be. >> times square is turning into a theme park for brands. you know, you don't have the x- rated stuff. and now it's free for pop-tarts. >> reporter: progress. >> yes. >> reporter: yes, it's a far different kind of tart than used to pop up in times square. jim axelrod, cbs news, new york. >> couric: and that is the "cbs evening news" for tonight. i'm katie couric. thank you for watching. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs
captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org months after a bay area giveaway, the findings of new who wants to take toxic sewage sludge and put it on their farm or garden? >> organic compost or toxic sludge? months after a bay area giveaway, the findings of new tests. pets in one bay area county would be affected if it becomes law. the pit bull proposal and how it was influenced by one child. an arrest in a fatal bay area shooting. tonight we hear from the cab driver who led police to the suspect. good evening, i'm dana king. the news starts now. your realtime captioner is linda marie macdonald. caption colorado, l.l.c. email@example.com and i'm allen martin. it was a free giveaway for backyard gardeners. the city called it organic compost and had been giving it away for years. activists dumped it on the steps of city hall saying it was sludge loaded with toxins. sin